Vanessa Redgrave

Tony Award-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave is in final rehearsals for a special benefit reading from Blue Nights, an evocative memoir by acclaimed author, and close friend, Joan Didion.

The one-night-only performance will be at 8 p.m. Monday, November 17, at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Ave, NYC). At Redgrave’s request, the evening will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Cathedral Community Cares. Redgrave will be joined by guest artist Jimmy Owens, 2012 NEA Jazz Master and leader of Jimmy Owens Plus, on the trumpet-flugelhorn.

Redgrave draws a connection between Blue Nights and Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, which Redgrave performed on Broadway and in London's West End.

"Magical thinking is when we believe that the past can be reversed, somehow," Redgrave says. "Blue nights are when everything has a future. For many of us, that means our children. When the blue nights end, we each confront the ludicrous enigma 'Why can't I be who I was? Why can't I wear the black tights and hooped earrings that made me feel I knew who I was?'"

Redgrave says those who attend the special reading will find "a curious solace – and laughter – in Joan's strange encounters with those who try to assist us with coping."

"Joan Didion wrote, 'We tell ourselves stories in order to live,'" Redgrave says. "That's why I'm reading from Blue Nights in the Cathedral on November 17."

Owens adds: "I feel the life that Joan Didion went through was the height of the saddest of the blues. All the life elements worked out because she was strong in her thoughts and emotions and knew she had to continue in her life. Music is always a part of our life's emotions and can help bridge many personal situations. I'm honored to be able to share my music, my emotions, as part of this evening."

Blue Nights is an account of the death of Quintana Roo, Didion's daughter with husband John Gregory Dunne. In the novel, Didion shares her struggle, as a mother and a writer, to cope with this assault on her emotional and physical resources just two years after her husband passed away.

Tickets range from $40-$175 and can be purchased at or by calling 212.316.7449.

About Cathedral Community Cares

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is chartered as a house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership. Cathedral Community Cares is a social outreach program of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Its mission is to combat and alleviate poverty through preventive poverty services, education and advocacy – specifically targeting the issues of health and hunger. CCC tackles these problems on multiple fronts by addressing the immediate and beyond-emergency needs of the underserved, while seeking long-term policy solutions that will benefit both clients and the greater community. As a part of “the living Cathedral,” CCC operates, coordinates and expands its direct service programs and advocacy campaigns based on the ever-unfolding, diverse needs of the community, while fostering self-sufficiency and cultivating social justice through outreach and education.

The Cathedral is open 7 days a week from 7:30 am – 6 pm. There is a suggested admission of $10 per person. Please visit the Website for more information and a schedule of public programs. Follow the Cathedral on Twitter.

About Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $250 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. 

Broadway Cares awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide and is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic.

For more information, please visit Broadway Cares online at